Authenticated User Menu

Wilson Creek North Carolina

Wed, 04/07/2010 - 10:02 -- jmaslar
Wilson Creek is a free-flowing creek that rises on the slopes of Grandfather Mountain in Avery County in the scenic Pisgah National Forest. Wilson Creek originates in Calloway Peak and stretches for 23 miles before emptying into John's River in Caldwell County. On its way to the John’s River, it rushes through a 200 foot deep gorge where you will find a steady stream of kayakers in the summer season. It was added to the Wild and Scenic River System on August 18, 2000.

Wilson Creek can de defined with three major sections.  The upper section, starting near the Blue Ridge Parkway, reaches down to the private property above Edgemont is catch and release only artificial lures only. Lures are restricted to those with one single hook.This steep section is difficult to hike into and is filled with runs and pools.

The middle section runs from below the property line at Edgemont down to Phillips Branch and is delayed harvest. This section is stocked with approximately 10,000 trout annually. However, there are also two sections of private property contained within this section of Delayed Harvest water. The water in this portion is crystal clear and provides plenty of fly fishing action. 

From Phillips Branch to Brown Mountain Beach, about 6.5 miles is classified as hatchery-supported waters and is regularly stocked by the Wildlife Resources Commission. For more information, contact the US Forest Service at (828) 652-2144 or the Wilson Creek Visitor Center at (828) 759-0005

Fishing Wilson Creek:
Most of Wilson Creek is clear water but challenging to fish due to the steep terrain. The rainbows and the brown trout can often reach 20 inches in length while the brook trout in the upper regions usually run 8 to 10 inches in length. The trout do not see a great deal of pressure and often will succumb to Blue Winged Olive imitations. Nymphs are a good choice to dead drift down the stream.

Also, do not neglect the feeder streams such as Harper Creek, North Harper Creek and Lost Cove Creek as they promise to be good trout fishing as well.  Gragg Prong which joins Lost Cove Creek just before its junction with Wilson as well as North Harper Creek and Harper Creek are restricted to artificial lures with single hook and Lost Cove Creek is catch and release fly fishing only.
Wilson Creek Photograph
The spring of the year will bring about some good hatches starting with the Blue Winged Olives and the Black Stone flies early in the spring, followed by the Hendricksons and the Caddis flies in April. Dry flies will work well as will the nymphs in these clear waters.
The summer is a good time to fish the Wilson Creek however; you must avoid the swimming and the kayaking areas of the gorge.  Giant Stoneflies and Light Cahills as well as dry terrestrial flies like the ants, beetles, and green hoppers will also be effective especially for the browns.
Fishermen OnWilson Creek On A Warm Winter Day

Fall and Winter:
Fishing remains good with the BWOs and Midge nymphs late in the season. Be sure to keep your fly box filled with size 18 through 22 in the late seasons.


Geographical Location: 
Type of Stream: 
Spring Creek
Rainbow, brown and brook trout
West Central North Carolina
Nearest Town: 
Lenoir, Morganton and Blowing Rock, North Carolina
From Morganton, travel north on NC 181 for 10 miles after the road turns to two lane from four lanes, then turn right on to Brown Mountain Beach Road. Continue on Brown Mountain Beach Road for 5 miles and turn left on to SR 1328. After passing the commercial campground, the road turns to gravel, where it follows the Wilson Creek Gorge. As you continue along this road, you will pass the Wilson Creek Visitor's Center. Continue another 4 or 5 miles and you will come to the end of the road at the Mortimer Recreation Area.
Scroll down to view the Google Map.
Check out our full color, waterproof map and fly fishing guide measures 11" x 17"
License and Other Information: 

Hatch Chart

View Southeast USA in a larger map


I was perusing this article just now and I have found two bits of misinformation. First of all, on this page, Wilson Creek is designated as a Freestone Stream. However, by definition (please see my article on this subject at, it is actually a Spring Creek and not a Freestone Stream since Freestone Streams derive the majority of their water from snow melt in the Spring and thus their water levels rise drastically in the Spring but are nearly depleted by Fall. However, the water in Wilson Creek is supplied mainly by underground springs and thus its water level remains relatively constant. Second, the town of Lenoir is closer to Wilson Creek than either Morganton or Blowing Rock.

More misinformation:

I was reading this article just now and I have found another piece of misinformation. On this page Wilson Creek is divided into three sections with distinctly different geography and distinctly different regulations. While I do agree with this categorization of these three sections, the upper section extending from the Eastern Continental Divide along the Blue Ridge to the private property above Edgemont is designated as Wild Water and thus the regulations state that fishermen must use single-hook, artificial lure only and are allow to keep four fish over 7 inches (not catch-and-release only as stated in the above article).

In addition, the Delayed Harvest section starts below the private property line at Edgemont and extends downstream to Phillips Branch just below the conjunction of Harper Creek and Wilson Creek. However, there are also two sections of private property contained within this sections of Delayed Harvest water.

Last of all, there is no such creek as South Harper Creek! Instead, there is only Harper Creek and North Harper Creek. In addition, Gragg Prong joins with Lost Cove Creek just above the private property line and only Lost Cove Creek continues on to meet with Wilson Creek and both Gragg Prong, Harper Creek, and North Harper Creek are designated as Wild water.

Submitted by jmaslar on

Thank you for taking the time to offer your comments based on your vast experience with Wilson Creek. We have fished it a number of times but by no means are experts on the creek. Again, we appreciate the help of our readers as we try to be as accurate as possible.

About Trout Pro

Troutprostore is here to help you fish smarter by offering the most innovative and highest quality trout fishing products.

SSL Certified Safe & Secure

Social Media

Trout Pro uses a variety of social media to keep customers in the loop.